Q

Dave Grohl says the new Foo Fighters album will 'make you dance'

Dave Grohl joined q's Tom Power for a conversation about the new Foo Fighters album and sound, performing at Joe Biden's inaugural celebration, and why they miss touring.

‘The party starts now!’

Foo Fighters (Danny Clinch)

Touring has been a way of life for Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl, one that started when he dropped out of high school to tour with the band Scream. He experienced "the world through the windshield of a Dodge van," and ever since he's been "circling the planet, over and over again," he told CBC Radio q's Tom Power. 

Scream later disbanded and Grohl joined Nirvana, which shot to world-wide fame. And after singer Kurt Cobain's death by suicide in 1994, Grohl started Foo Fighters as a solo project, which also grew into a massively successful six-headed band, now about to release their 10th studio album.

But when the pandemic hit, it put an abrupt halt to live music and 52-year-old Grohl found himself examining his place and purpose in life.

Watch the full interview with Dave Grohl below.

The rock legend said he embraced the change in pace that the pandemic brought because he got to connect more with his family — who under normal circumstances, would only see him every two weeks or if they joined him on tour.

'The party starts now' with a new sound

Before the world went into lockdown, Foo Fighters recorded their 10th album, Medicine at Midnight, which comes out on Feb. 5 at midnight. The album's sound noticeably deviates from the band's rock and roll roots.

"The one thing that we hadn't done was really focused on some kind of groove, like, some sort of boogie," said Grohl. "We wanted to make an album that would make you dance."

Every song that sounded too much like the Foo Fighters was shelved because the band wanted to feel the excitement of discovering something new.

The turning point, Grohl said, happened three weeks into the recording process, while creating Shame Shame — a song that started with a simple drum beat and what Grohl described as a "finger snapping foot thing." 

He demonstrated with his hands, producing the percussive sound and rhythm of tap dancing.

I'm a wannabe tap dancer, OK. Like, that's one of my life goals is to become a tap dancer.- Dave Grohl

Grohl's excitement during the recording process grew as he realized that the band "still had a pulse" and that they were capable of change and progress. But the most frustrating part was that now they couldn't tour because of the pandemic.

Touring is incredible, said Grohl. "It's like this crazy, cathartic, primal, scream therapy." 

The connection with the audience, he added, is his life's greatest reward. 

Grohl broke his leg in 2015 when he fell off the stage during a concert in Sweden, and even then, he didn't want to stop touring.

Instead he had a "rock and roll laser throne" built for the rest of the tour from which he could continue "conducting the stadium," he said.

Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters performs on stage during the Ansan Valley Rock Festival on July 26, 2015 in Ansan, South Korea. (Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)

"We make music so that people can hear it and find some escape or joy, or happiness or belief … And that's when this light went off in my head and I thought, 'OK, you know, the touring thing is, kind of, like a phantom limb — like, it's still sort of itchy, but that's not the only reason why we [make music]."

A 'sort of rebirth'

Grohl told Power that performing Times Like These at U.S. President Joe Biden's inauguration celebration in January felt surreal.

He said he wrote the song 18 years ago about a "crossroads in your life where you feel that you need some sort of rebirth."

"I've always thought that when someone dear to you, someone close to you passes away, you have to start life all over again ... do everything in life all over again. Your first cup of coffee, since you've lost that person, your first trip to the grocery store since you've lost them. It's basically what that song is about, you know, learning to love again, learning to live again. 

"In the [United] States, we need that and so it's a rebuilding in a hopeful way," said Grohl, who thought that was likely why the band was asked to play the song.

After Nirvana, Foo Fighters gave Grohl life

Coming out of Nirvana, then one of the biggest bands in the world, Grohl went through a rebuilding process himself.

Cobain was 27 when he died, and his death reverberated through the music world.

(Kirk Weddle)

"When Nirvana ended, like, I just shut off all the music, I turned off the radio and put the instruments away," he said.

"Sitting behind a drum set just felt too painful. There was trauma there."

Eventually, he realized music always saved him and decided he wasn't done yet. At 25, his whole life was ahead of him and Grohl was grateful to be alive.

And so the Foo Fighters to me represent a lot more than just like a band and songs and, you know, T-shirts and stadiums and stuff. It really does represent some sort of continuation of life.- Dave Grohl

"I want to live, I want to be with my guys, be with my fellas and just run around screaming at people into a microphone. Like, that's what makes me feel alive. And that's what the band represents."


Written by Vanja Mutabdzija Jaksic. Interview produced by Mitch Pollock.

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